Friday, August 31, 2012

August, it's been fun!

Wow! August 31, 2012.  This is it. The last day.  And it has been fun!! and bleak. And frustrating. and Happy!! and in the end it's ALL GOOD!  And today is gorgeous!!! The sky is blue, there is a warm breeze, the sun is shining.  My family is well.  AND, I have the next three days OFF!!!!
My Project Summer 2012 Album is filled with photos and lists and words and MEMORIES.  
My Project Summer 2012 List updated.  

  • Spend more time at Amanda's pool (STILL only been there twice, but there'sSTILL time) 
  • Read the books on my Summer Reading List (yum, STILL working on that first one)
  • Cook with seasonal foods (and eat healthy) strawberries, watermelon, zucchini, cabbage
  • Grow a garden herbs (growing basil and cilantro) Still growing and my houseplants are divine!
  • Walk the neighborhood in the evenings, Done and Doing
  • Have more picnics (1. the park near Amanda's; 2. Idlewild; 3. Amanda's) ADD # 4 - Kennywood!
  • Clean out the cellar (again)
  • Spa weekend once a month (with the girls)
  • Go thrifting (with Mom and K) (with Joey, K, Cam & Jade), and with Mom again
  • Make something wearable
  • Camp-out in the LR with the kiddies (make smores) Done and it was a blast!!!
  • Make ice-cream
  • Take a trip to the zoo moved to the fall list
  • On a rainy day, go to the museum 
  • Wear a summer dress every day (even on the weekends) (am and loving it!)
  • Go miniature golfing
  • Take all the kiddies to Idlewild Park (done)
  • Enjoy my front porch (have and still am) 
  • Make iced tea (always) 
  • Donate (scheduled) DONE
  • Make a Financial Vision Board (I REALLY am going to do this, BUT I have been experimenting with a $10.00 a day deal (5 goes for parking and its just the weekdays, but so far, so good) Though I haven't yet made the board, I did incorporate the $10.00 a day deal and loved it and saved money.  I will making this a life thing.
  • Take more photos (ongoing) 
  • Learn to sew
  • HAVE FUN! (am!) 
  • Wednesday, August 29, 2012

    Back to School Resolutions, Chapter 2: Changes to Weekday Routines

    Now that school is back in (for most, Cammi doesn't start til September 4), and in follow up to my Back to School, Chapter 1 post, I've made a list of my current routines/habits noting what needed changed, tweaked, deleted entirely or just plain overhauled.

    1.         Keep eating healthy.  The fall/winter months are my most favorite months to cook. Savory soups, stews, chili. Baked breads, muffins, cakes.  Casseroles and pork roasts.  OMGosh!  As I work away from my house all week, I’ll be cooking extras on the weekends and making sure there are leftovers for lunch.  I enjoy sitting down to a home-cooked meal, especially since my grandkiddies stay over almost every weekend.
    2.         Create good “homework” habits.  For me, this will mean spending time at my desk going over the day’s mail, paying bills, making to-do lists of appointments to be made, shopping lists and birthday/anniversary cards to be sent. Purging papers, filing important docs, etc.
    3.         Create evening and morning routines that you can adhere to.  My current routines are apparently not working as I climb the stairs at least five times each morning looking for things I’ve forgotten.  I will resolve to do more the night before – choose what to wear, pack my lunch, find my shoes.  In perusing blogland, I came across an idea of hanging a chalkboard by the front door and listing all the many useless items I just can’t seem to leave the house with so I do not forget anything ever again!  I apologize for not making note of where I read this so that I could give credit where credit is due.  
    4.         Maintain the budget and save money (for a new roof).  Actually, with the holidays coming up, which means more parties, more parties, means more food, more presents, more pretty clothes, er, maybe not more pretty clothes, but MORE, new spending guidelines need set forth and adhered to these next few months. AND I MEAN IT!
    5.         Get out of bed on time and get going.  It is true that I might hit the snooze button an average of 8 times before I actually get out of bed.  This is why I set the alarm to go off 18 minutes earlier than I need to get up.  IT WORKS!
    6.         EAT BREAKFAST.  You love oatmeal – eat it.
    7.         Shower or bathe the night before.  I have very frizzy, curly hair that takes hours to try, so showering/bathing the night before works for me (unless I’ve just gotten the Brazilian Blowout and then my hair is sleek, straight and shiny and I can grab a quick shower in the morning).
    8.         GO TO BED! Do not stay up to watch any after hour shows. You KNOW you cannot function without at least 7 hours of sleep (8 is better).  You KNOW you will eat more trying to get energized.  You KNOW you will nod off at your desk and risk falling off your chair.

    And that's my list.  Not too taxing. Workable. DOABLE!

    Thursday, August 23, 2012

    Back to School Resolutions. Chapter 1

    The new school year is right around the corner (for some it’s already started), and for me, September, like January 1, is exciting in that it’s like another shot at a “new beginning” and who doesn’t like that?  And with new beginning’s come new schedules, new start dates, new habits (good ones, preferably) to be made.  I know two teenage girls who, for a good part of their summer vacation, have spent most of their time at my house, staying up late, sleeping in, eating whatever, whenever and they have become “regulars” at the new coffee house which just opened within walking distance.  Who parents these kiddos??? Ahem.  I work, that’s my feeble excuse. BUT they are good girls who are just enjoying their summer vacation to the fullest.  It’s what I would be doing, too, if I had a few summer months off.

    So I started thinking why not take this time to change a few things in my own routine.  Re-read and reaffirm my January 1 resolutions, see how I’ve been doing and either add, modify, or delete.  There are so many lists to make and then to cross off. 

    First though, I am going to clean out my desk and restock, if needed.  Then I am going to make up "restock your desk" kits for the older grandkiddies, complete with staplers, staples, rulers, tablets, scissors, project covers, paper clips, and a few of MY most favorites: BIC Pencils, Pilot V Ball, and these fabulous FULL adhesive notes (no curling edges and they lift right off!) Post-Its.  

    All this is just the beginning!!! Not only does next week bring the start of the school year, but Shimelle's LSNED class is back in session, too.  And falling leaves, cooler temperatures, apple cider, OH, but I am getting ahead of myself, there is still so much SUMMER left to do.

    Kayla, 2007
    Cammi, 2007

    Wednesday, August 22, 2012

    Walk With Me Wednesday

    The girls and I took a walk to the corner store. (Well, it's down a few corners). We live on West. We stay on West. We never go off West.
    Off we, or they, go
    Two of my fave girls - Kay and Kai
    A quick turn back, looking down West Street toward our home
    Lots of cracked sidewalks.
    That big brown building on the left used to house Columbia Hospital. Now it's all sorts of things.
    Dusk approaches
    The Store
    Assorted flavors make the most "delicious" slushes
    Hello Moon
    The streetlights are on lighting our way back home
    At a crossroads
    And another
    Passing Kelly Elementary School
    The final leg
    Home again

    Sunday, August 19, 2012

    Camping Out...

    ... living room style.
    First you invite alot of kiddies.  I had all six grandchildren stay over.  Their ages range from 14 down to 2. Next, enlist the aid of one other adult (well, not too adult, we want that person to keep these kiddies busy). Set up two camps. The Boys and the Girls.
    Gotta have smores. These kids love watching the marshmallows puff in the microwave.
    Gotta play games.  Hide and Seek is always a good one.
    Gotta be silly.
    Gotta have a good movie.  Luckily, The Hunger Games was airing On Demand.
    Gotta have food and fingers. 
    And eventually, you gotta sleep.
    Camp-out - 08-18-2012

    Sunday, August 12, 2012

    Three Hour Tour and Some Cooking

    Not really, but Mom and I had a fabulous day today and ended up on 12 Mile Island a/k/a Maple Island and the Gilligan's Island theme popped in my head. Weird. I know.  Anyway, we started our morning out cooking.  Gathered all the ingredients we would need for cabbage rolls and chicken-zucchini casserole.

    Mom had picked up a fabulous (and huge) head of cabbage which we set to boiling right away.
    In the spirit of multi-tasking, we got right down to chopping and slicing and simmering zucchini and onion in another pan.

    Time to roll the meat mixture in the cabbage leaves.

    Little bundles of yumminess.

    Into a slow oven it goes. 

    After cleaning the kitchen, Mom and I headed off to the Island.  I spent my teenage summers, and the my children's summers here.  

    You can only get to the island by boat.  If you take the ferry boat, your first sight will be this lovely gazebo.

    Today was the Festival in the Lane.  One of my favorite events! That's when islanders get together and sell wares, food, drink, play games, Chinese auction (love this! and won, too!!).  Talk, laugh, reacquaint, meet anew.
    The island is beautiful though I did not appreciate until I was a Mom myself.
    Mom and I had a wonderful time visiting old friends. Temperature wise, it was on the cooler side - great for walking!  
    Even better - dinner was waiting for us when we went to our respective homes.  

    Cabbage Rolls, My Mom’s Way
    Growing up, these were known as Pigs in a Blanket. We never called them cabbage rolls. Also, back then, my Mom would have to cook the rice first.  Now, she microwaves it using Minute RiceReady to Serve. Fast. Easy. Perfect! We used the whole grain brown rice.
    ·         1 head of cabbage
    ·         1 pound of ground beef
    ·         1 egg
    ·         1 onion chopped
    ·         2 individual servings Minute Rice Ready to Serve, cooked
    ·         1 jar sauce (We used  Ragu, a large can of tomato sauce, or tomato soup will do, too)
    ·         ¾ cup water
    ·         salt and pepper, parsley, whatever you fancy

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Now, we heated ours to 200 because we were going out for a few hours and were slow roasting these babies.  Core the cabbage and boil in salted water for about 10 minutes.  In the interim, mix the ground beef, egg, onions, rice, water and spices together in a bowl.  Divide your meat mixture into 12 portions (or more).  Separate the leaves from the cabbage and roll up a portion into each leaf. Place seam side down in pan.  Cover with sauce. Bake in 350 degree oven for about 45 minutes.  (Or slow roast for a few hours).

    Buono mangiare!

    Friday, August 10, 2012

    RIP Mr. Hamlisch

    True to form, I am again, behind in the times.  Rest in Peace, Mr. Hamlisch.  So blessed am I to have been one of many able to enjoy an evening of your talents with the Pittsburgh Symphony Pops series.  May your eternal life be filled with Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows.

    Wednesday, August 8, 2012

    Walk With Me Wednesday

    Today is gorgeous!! The sky is so blue (my new favorite color - sky blue).  The focus of today's walk is the area between Fourth & Stanwix and Fourth & Wood (with a side trip to Prantl's Bakery for a frosted sugar cookie, but don't tell anyone, that totally doesn't jive with my efforts to lose a little poundage, wink, wink). We will start at Fourth Avenue & Stanwix Street walking along the left side.
    The time to really walk up this street is in the evening when the sun is going down and the lights are on. Totally reminds me of a Gotham City type place. It's beautiful.
    This building houses the Wintergarden. Beautiful plants.  (See last Wednesday's post for more info)

     Reflections (never can resist)
    Two Gateway Center, home to the Food Court, a few select stores and law offices

     Across the street is PPG Square

    Between the buildings and to our left is Market Square

    A Historic Landmark
    The Benedum Trees Building
    Parking across the street

    I haven't eaten here yet, but I plan to.

    The Mandarin Gourmet.  I have eaten here. It's good. 

    Plenty of places to eat
    And that brings us to Fourth Avenue and Wood Street
    And now I must detour to Prantl's for one of these: